LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Pastor Tim Findley Jr. stopped in-person services at Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center on East Broadway when Jefferson County hit the coronavirus red zone.
"I've asked and prayed and been led. This is the best decision to keep people safe," he said. "Not just in our church, but the families of those in our community."
Findley on Thursday offered his support of Gov. Andy Beshear recommendation to halt in-person services statewide from Friday through Dec. 13 to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
"I think it's irresponsible for any faith leader to bypass these kinds of recommendations," Findley said.
Beshear said his recommendation is not a requirement and is based on 35 examples of the virus spreading in and around houses of worship over the past six weeks.
"Not just worship services, but pot lucks and others," he said.
At the outset of the pandemic, the governor issued an executive order prohibiting mass gatherings, including in-person worship. That order was struck down as it applied to religious services when a church in Nicholasville, Kentucky, filed a temporary restraining order against the measure. U.S. District Court Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove granted the church's restraining order and said it "may extend statewide."
In a statement to WDRB News, the leader of the Catholic church in Louisville, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, said he and other bishops around the state "will not be suspending public liturgies but encourage all to act in a responsible way that respects the seriousness of this pandemic and the health and safety of all."
"I join with the other three Catholic bishops of the Commonwealth of Kentucky in acknowledging the difficult circumstances Gov. Beshear is seeking to navigate, and I appreciate his concern for the common good," Kurtz said in the statement. "The increase in cases of COVID-19 is indeed alarming and presents significant challenges. As for public worship, I join with Kentucky’s Catholic bishops in reiterating the importance of following all of the guidelines that have been in place for the past several months. Our commitment to providing the opportunity to participate in the Church’s liturgies remotely will continue, as will the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass.
"... I also encouraged the continued careful observance of our 'Healthy at Worship' directives, which include mask-wearing, social distancing and careful hygiene, as they celebrate public liturgies," Kurtz added. "I believe these guidelines have served us well."
Father Shayne Duvall of St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church said they will continue offering virtual service options for members alongside the in-person option.
"The church teaches that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives, and we need Christ," Duvall said. "We need the Eucharist now more than ever and that is essential to our masses."
Some church leaders said they are still figuring out how they will move forward after the governor's latest recommendation.
- Kentucky reports 'staggering' new high in COVID-19 infections
- Federal judge rules Kentucky churches can hold in-person services beginning Sunday
Copyright 2020 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.